Kobach lashes out at state GOP over effort to narrow Senate field: Grassroots ‘should be outraged’

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Kansas GOP Senate candidate Kris Kobach lashed out at the state Republican Party on Friday after it called on two of his opponents in the race to drop out to narrow the field, amid fears from national Republicans about Kobach becoming the party’s nominee.

“Grassroots Republicans should be outraged. Our next Senator will be chosen by the people of Kansas — not the party elites. The Chairman’s attempted intervention into the GOP primary is inappropriate,” Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of State, tweeted.

The remarks follow a report from The Kansas City Star saying that Kansas GOP Chairman Mike Kuckelman wrote to state Senate President Susan Wagle and former Johnson County Commissioner Dave Lindstrom urging them to suspend their campaigns.

Kuckelman cited low fundraising and polling numbers in his letter and said their continued Senate bids would endanger Republicans’ ability to hold the seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts (R), the newspaper reported.

“I ask that you put the good of the Party — as well as the good of our state and country — ahead of all personal interests. If that is indeed your first priority, it is clear that the best course is to end your campaign. It is time to allow our Party to coalesce behind a candidate who will not only win, but will help Republicans down the ballot this November,” Kuckelman wrote.

If those two candidates dropped out it would set up a head-to-head matchup between Kobach and Rep. Roger Marshall (R) in Kansas’s Aug. 4 primary.

Republicans fear a crowded GOP primary could split up the establishment vote and allow Kobach to potentially pull off an insurgent victory.

Kobach successfully won the party’s nomination in the 2018 gubernatorial race after a crowded contest, only to lose the general election to Democrat Laura Kelly in the deep red state.

The former Kansas secretary of State is a close ally of President Trump’s and has advocated various far-right positions, particularly on immigration.

“The GOP has held this seat since the 1930s and its nominee, standing alongside President Trump, will win again in 2020. I trust KS Republican voters to choose the right nominee who will stand with the President and bring our shared conservatives values to the U.S. Senate,” said Kobach. 

The ultimate Republican nominee will run against state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D), who is expected to coast to her party’s nomination and spend the coming months gearing up for the general election. 

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the Kansas Senate race as “lean Republican.”

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